A Facebook exodus: is the new 'privacy-oriented' strategy the reason

NEW DELHI: Facebook is one of the most valuable companies in the world — on good days the second- or third-most and on bad days, the sixth-most — and present almost everywhere in the world, save for China. Yet it seems the company is struggling to keep hold of their top executives.

On Thursday, founder-CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook's chief product officer Chris Cox and head of WhatsApp, Chris Daniels, are leaving the company. This comes days after Zuckerberg announced a new strategy of a "privacy-focussed" Facebook that also sees close integration of all company's products: FB, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.

The technology company has seen a series of high-profile exits over the last year or so — all of it related to changes Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg were enforcing. WhatsApp founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum left in a span of 8 months overlapping 2017 and 2018. The departure meant they forfeited a payment of $1.3 billion. It was later revealed the founders — Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 — disagreed over Facebook's plan to monetise the messaging service through advertisement. Following them through the exit door was Instagram's Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who also was not in agreement over Facebook's increasing integration with the app.

Others who have exited include Alex Stamos, formerly chief security officer at Facebook, Colin Stretch, the top lawyer, Dan Rose, a vice president, Alex Hardiman, head of news products, and Elliot Schrage, the head of communication. An investigation by the New York Times later revealed that Stamos had alerted Facebook's board members in 2017 that the company was yet to contain the Russian infestation — a disclosure regarded as a betrayal by Sandberg.

The flurry of executive departures come even as the pressure intensifies on Zuckerberg to step down as CEO following scandals such as Cambridge Analytica and data leaks. Sandberg's position, too, has come under a cloud after it was revealed she cleared Facebook's attempt to discredit critics by wrongfully associating them with George Soros, a liberal donor.